Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Six Book Turnoffs

It’s Tuesday, and I’m once again participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic of Top Ten Book Covers You’d Like To Design did not bring any thoughts into my head. Not one. But the topic from October 1st that I missed, Top Ten Book Turnoffs, definitely brings some thoughts to mind. It’s like an excuse to talk about book pet peeves. Who doesn’t like to rant occasionally? If you find any of my book dislike match your own, say so in the comments. Together we can change the book world. Or maybe not, but at least we can commiserate.

#1 Book Turnoff

When a main character does something so completely out of character, you can tell the purpose of the character’s action was solely to move the plot along. I understand people have flaws, and it’s only right that book characters have flaws, too. But flaws should be part of the character, not only part of the plot. For example, I’m okay with Lydia running off with Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. I’m not okay with an upstanding Quaker lady suddenly having an affair with a runaway slave with no hint that such a thing could be part of either character’s’make up. No, that just doesn’t work for me.

#2 Book Turnoff

The word “ablutions.” as in “When Eloina finished her morning ablutions…” Has anyone ever said this word outloud? It’s archaic. It was probably archaic as soon as it was invented. Please, leave it out of mostly plain English books.

#3 Book Turnoff

Female characters becoming pregnant the moment they lose their virginity. I know this happens in real life, but it is so over done in books. Please, be sensitive to your craft and think of a more original plot twist. Or be sensitive to all the women out there going through miscarriages or infertility.

#4 Book Turnoff

Dashing rogues. Ugh.

#5 Book Turnoff

Pride and Prejudice spin offsPride and Prejudice is a perfect novel and it does not require further imaginings from present day writers. I would love to read a book similar to it, with completely new characters and matching wit and human interpretation. But lets leave perfection alone.

#6 Book Turnoff

Explicit love scenes. I don’t read erotica and I don’t appreciate its inclusion in literary or historical fiction.

Of course, these are all personal preferences. Everyone has their likes and dislikes when it comes to books, heavily affected by their own lives. Those are some of mine. What are yours?

Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Forced Literature

I’m not sure if I should make a list of books I’m glad I was forced to read or if it should be books I wish I hadn’t been forced to read…either way, today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic by The Broke and the Bookish is all about books you read that you didn’t choose for yourself. My list is going to be a mix of books I did and didn’t like.

1. Bonhoeffer — This is one of those books that many of the intellectual people I knew were reading so I thought I’d better read it if I was going to keep up with them. Silly, I know. Though I felt a little bit like a fish out of water with such a huge biography, it was a great book. And Eric Metaxes looks great on my “have read” list.

2. Man’s Search For Meaning — I would never have picked this book to read. It was horrific in many ways, because what Nazi prison camp memoir isn’t? It’s a great philosophical read, though.

Madame Bovary3. Madame Bovary — I really hated this book, but I had to read it for World Lit in college. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, even if it is a world famous classic. Yes, it’s an amazing piece of writing and very insightful, but I have no love for that Madame.

4. Seeds of Change — Another college class book. In my senior year I needed two more History classes to get a minor in History, so I thought, why not? I took The History of the British Empire, taught by an overzealous visiting professor. One of the hardest classes ever. And this is one of my least favorite books ever. But definitely check it out if you’re interested in how timber was a crucial commodity to England and a main reason for colonizing the New World.

5. The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Boy, did I roll my eyes at this one when mom said I had to read it for school. I don’t know why I thought that it wouldn’t be applicable to me, but now I would like to have the time to read it again.

6. The Hunger Games — My friend forced me to read this book. It turned out okay. 😉

7. The Count of Monte Cristo — My husband told me I should read this one, and it was awesome.

The Icarus Hunt8. The Icarus Hunt — My one venture into Star Wars literature. I was laid up after knee surgery and my then boyfriend (now husband) gave me a book he had enjoyed. So of course I’m going to read it! And though I will probably never read another Zahn book again, it was a good venture into that realm of books.

9. The Great Gatsby — I liked this book very well the first time I was required to read it in high school. And then we deconstructed it, reconstructed it, examined every symbol that probably wasn’t really a symbol, and on and on in college. I read it at least 10 times in one semester. I still think of it as one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, but I’ll never enjoy it as a good read again.

10. Jane Eyre — I love it when required reading turns into a favorite list. This is another one I read more than once in college (three times, I think?), but I still love reading it now. On a side note, one of the craziest things about Jane Eyre is almost every movie I’ve seen is fairly accurate, even though they’re all so different. I didn’t realize it was so open to interpretation! There are varying degrees of Gothic themes in the movies based on the book that I’ve seen.

All in all, I’m usually glad to have read a book that I didn’t choose for myself, though I don’t always enjoy the actual reading of  it while I’m in the middle. Let’s just state once and for all that no book I recommend should be considered required reading! This is a no guilt zone. =)

Have you read books you didn’t want to read that turned out great? Or terrible?

Children's Books, Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Favorite Sequels: A Top Ten Tuesday Post

Today is a Top Ten Tuesday on the blog. The great bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish give book bloggers a topic to run wild with each Tuesday. I haven’t had any idea what to write on the last few topics, but I’m jumping back in with Top Ten Sequels. Actually, it will be Top 7 Sequels, because there just aren’t that many sequels worthy of the first book.You know who did not write sequels? Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Mark Twain, and the list goes on and on of the great writers of classics who knew that a great book is best when it has an ending that is perfect in itself.

There are a few great writers who found a way to write great sequels. Many sequels turn into Book 2 in series (especially these days), so those count as sequels in this list as long as there is a plot that begins and ends in Book #2.

1. The sequels to Little Women: Little Men and Jo’s Boys

There are some characters you consider friends and just want more of their stories. Lousia May Alcott created those characters.

Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #2)2. Sky Lark, the sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall

3. Prince Caspian, sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

4. Belong to Me, the sequel to Love Walked In

These are books by Marisa de Los Santos I would put in the category of “Books I really liked for some reason I can’t entirely explain.” I wouldn’t expect most people to like them, but I really enjoyed the characters and the way they developed.

5. All sequels written by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Yes, I am an unabashed fan. If you’ve already read the Anne books, try Emily or Pat. Pat is a bit of a neurotic character, but I still love her.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I think the first three books in this series are marvelous. I like all of them, but the first three are the best. Also, I think they can stand alone as fun books without the rest of the series, though I wouldn’t recommend reading them that way.

7. The House at Pooh  Corner

That’s about all I can come up with! What are your favorite sequels?

Everyday Life, Reading, Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday

What I Read At The Beach

My daughter and I feel the same way about the beach.
My daughter and I feel the same way about the beach.

I didn’t participate in Top Ten Tuesday this week because I just returned from my long awaited beach vacation. It was lovely. We went to the same beach I’ve been going to since I was a tyke, and I just didn’t want to leave. It feels like home. And it’s on the beach. A more perfect combination probably doesn’t exist.

Orphan TrainWhile at the beach I read Oprhan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I really enjoyed it. It was partly set in 2011 and presented as the story of a 17-year-old girl named Molly, and partly set in the 1920s-40s and told by Vivian. Is there a technical name for those books that flux between now and then? There must be by now, but I don’t know it. Please tell me if you do. Molly has been in foster care since she was a little girl, going from family to family and never finding a family to love or to love her. She is rough around the edges, but understandably so. She meets Vivian because her boyfriend sets up a community service project for her in hopes of keeping her around instead of seeing her sent to a new family or somewhere worse. Vivian is in her 90s, and their project together is to clean out her attic.

I feel like I shouldn’t give too many plot details because I think Kline has put together a book that gives just enough away of the story in each part to maintain a comfortable level of suspense and comprehension for the reader. Knowing too much about the plot of a book before you read it takes away half the fun of reading. So I’ll just tell you that this is a good read which will also inform you of some actual history. I had never heard of the orphan trains that took children from New York City to the Midwest. I was fascinated by the story of these children, and saddened by the story of a current day foster child, too. While reading this book, when I saw my own mom wipe the sand off my children’s faces at the beach or saw my husband jump with them in the waves, I thought, “How many children, just like those children on the orphan train, never experience a simple, caring gesture of a loving parent or grandparent? How many two-year-olds never have someone brush the hair out of their eyes and pat them on the back or help them blow their noses?” It is something to think about.

If you decide to read Orphan Train or if you have already read it, please share your thoughts! I always love to find out what other reads think of the books I review.

I also started reading at the beach Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, because so many people mentioned it in their Top Ten Tuesday list last week. Most of them paired it with The Great Gatsby and said they really liked it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. So far, it’s not much like Gatsby but it’s pretty good in its own right. A full review will appear here by the end of the week (I hope).

Happy reading!

Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

A Little Contemporary To Go With Your Classic: A Top Ten Tuesday List

Tuesday is fast becoming my favorite day! I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, for the second time this blog’s history. I’m loving the fun lists the bloggers from The Broke and the Bookish inspire each week. After you check out my list, be sure to go check out others’ lists as well, especially since this week is a dual theme. Book bloggers can choose between making a list of contemporary books that would be great paired with classics, or making a list of books that should be required reading in schools. I’m a little out of touch with school required reading and I adore classic literature, so I’m doing the first topic.

I probably wouldn’t choose the contemporary book over the classic in any of these pairings, but some of them come close. Especially the first one!

 

Ten New Books To Go With Ten Old Books

1. To Kill A Mockingbird and The Help

To Kill a MockingbirdThe Help

This one seems pretty self explanatory. The point of narration is quite different, but the humor, honesty, and themes are very similar. The Help has more women’s studies themes, but I think it’s still a book that anyone, man or woman, can enjoy and appreciate. Of course, no contemporary book can compare with Harper Lee’s insight and bravery in writing about what was a very current issue.

2. The Good Earth and Snow Flower and The Secret Fan

The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Pearl S. Buck’s classic The Good Earth is challenging to read, just as any literature about Chinese traditions is for most American women. Though it mainly follows the rise and decline of one man, Wang Lung, and his entire family, it begins on the eve of his wedding to a common, Chinese woman. The impact Wang’s first wife has on his life is of great importance throughout the book. Lisa See’s 2006 book Snow Flower and The Secret Fan gives more details about the Chinese way of life for women. I was educated by them both, though it was an unhappy education.

3. Anne of Green Gables and Before Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

Before Green Gables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have read the entire Anne of Green Gables series and still want more, Budge Wilson’s prequel, Before Green Gables, is an imaginative  and very readable account of Anne’s life before Green Gables. Though Wilson’s style isn’t much like Montgomery’s, she sticks with the facts of the original book very well; I’ve read the series through and through and didn’t find any discrepancies. Yes, it was a little bit of a downer, since Anne’s life was a hard one before she was rescued by Matthew Cuthberth on the platform of a railway station on Prince Edward Island. But there are bright moments and characters and one realizes how Anne could have had a chance to develop her bright, cheerful character despite her circumstances.

4. The Secret Garden and Mandy

The Secret Garden

Two books about orphans with secret gardens written in a charming and cheerful way = a lovely pair of must read literature for young girls. The Secret Garden was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1911 and Mandy was published in 1971 by Julie Andrews. THE Julie Andrews. She was, no, IS a hero of mine, ever since I couldn’t get enough of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins from age 2 to 10. Maybe Mandy is already considered a classic and doesn’t really count in this contemporary with classic pairing. Oh well.

5. I Capture The Castle and The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

I Capture the CastleThe Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What? You haven’t heard of either of these books? Well, I Capture The Castle should be a classic. Written by Dodie Smith, the author of 101 Dalmations, it tells the original tale of Cassandra Mortmain and her eccentric family who are living in a crumbling castle and on the verge of destitution. When two eligible young men move into the nearby manor, the book starts to have some Pride and Prejudice similarities, but those end almost before they begin and what we’re left with is an enchanting, witty book. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is by Eva Rice (daughter of famed lyricist, Tim Rice), and is not a masterpiece like I Capture the Castle, but it is set in the same time period and has a similar feel. It’s a fun read. I’d recommend them both. Oh, and please do not judge the book by the movie based on I Capture the Castle. I didn’t see the movie, but I can tell you by the trailer I watched that it is not very much like the book. Besides books always win over movies. Almost always.

6. Silas Marner and The Light Between Oceans

Silas Marner

The Light Between Oceans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silas Marner and The Light Between Oceans are both books that center on babes found by adults and adults finding salvation from grief in the babes.  Silas Marner is a more tidy and hopeful book, but both are powerful tales that prove love is the most excellent way. I reviewed The Light Between Oceans in a separate post here. While we’re on this theme, another book about a baby found is, aptly titled, Baby by Patricia MacLachlan. I love that book, though it always makes me cry. Oh, I just can’t tell you how much I love that book. If you haven’t read it, put it on top of your To Be Read list. It’s only 100 pages or so, and it’s beautiful.

7. Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games

Lord of the Flies

 The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

 

 

 

 

 

The classic, Darwinian survival of the fittest in Lord of the Flies was written all over The Hunger Games. Yes, I have to admit, I enjoyed The Hunger Games more. But I have a hard time thinking of one of these books without thinking of the other.

8. Sarah Plain and Tall and The Magic of Ordinary Days

 

Sarah, Plain and Tall (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #1)The Magic of Ordinary Days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah, Plain and Tall is the story of a strong, mail order bride on the plains. It is one of my favorite books. The Magic of Ordinary Days is a different kind of mail order bride on the plains, in a different era. Still, the decision to wed before love and the strength of the characters makes both these books great companions for grown ups. Please note, I said grown ups. Speaking of adults, if you’re a grown up that hasn’t read Patricia MacLachlan, I strongly recommend that you remedy that situation as soon as possible!

9. Gone With the Wind and The Kitchen House

Gone with the Wind

The Kitchen House

 

 

 

 

 

 

These books are both set in the Civil War Era, but tell very different stories. Gone With the Wind is a novel that follows the plantation’s mistress and The Kitchen House follows the black slaves that survive the war on the plantation. I didn’t particularly enjoy The Kitchen House, but I know a lot of readers that did and it is a stirring review of what life was probably really like for the slaves on a plantation during this time. Gone With the Wind is far and away a better piece of writing and story telling, though.

10. Fill in the blank!!! I need your help to think of another classic with contemporary pairing. If you think of one, please share. You’ll be featured in my separate post of number 10 in this list. =)

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